I have seen how the Detroit community of writers and activists looks out for and supports young artists. It is something I experienced as a young writer as well. I don’t know if that exists in other parts of the country quite like it does here. I hope it does.
Write dreadful things. When I was younger—and even now, more often than I care to admit—I was very precious about my writing, afraid of how it would be judged by the audience I was imagining, even if that audience was just my future self. So I painstakingly labored over everything, refusing to share anything unfinished and often giving up entirely. Looking back on that writing, I still find it dreadful—a lot of good all that worrying did! What I wish I had done was write a lot more; you can see a lot farther standing on a mountain of garbage than a single, meticulously crafted step stool.
Sometimes I look at him, and he’s a medical doctor, so he’s been aware of death and the possibility of death and mortality daily, but I sometimes look at him and think, Oh, you’re not an orphan. You don’t understand. I feel that that is a profound change. It’s a kind of wisdom. It makes you porous in a way that is, I think, positive.
When a poem is sent to the world, like a letter inside that bottle in the sea, a community of readers associates it with some meaning, familiar or unfamiliar, and they add their own layers of meanings to it, and that's what makes it alive. The poem offers space, and readers immigrate to it. In poetry, I am the native citizen who welcomes others, the way I was welcomed by others who came before me.
Margaret Kimball is an award-winning illustrator and the author of And Now I Spill the Family Secrets, a graphic memoir about mental illness and family dysfunction. Her graphic essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The Believer, Ecotone, Black Warrior Review, South Loop Review, and elsewhere. Her work has been listed as notable in Best …